rodney mcleod

Most important Eagles for 2020: Rodney McLeod lands at No. 12

Most important Eagles for 2020: Rodney McLeod lands at No. 12

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be counting down the 20 most important Eagles for the 2020 season. 

20: Nate Sudfeld 
19. Avonte Maddox
18. Nathan Gerry
17. Dallas Goedert  
16. Derek Barnett

15. Jalen Reagor 
14. Jalen Mills
13. Brandon Brooks
12. Rodney McLeod 

The Eagles this offseason let Malcolm Jenkins walk but re-signed Rodney McLeod to a two-year deal. Without Jenkins, McLeod’s role with the Eagles will be even more important in 2020. 

McLeod, who just turned 30, has played four full seasons with the Eagles and he’s been a big part of the team’s success. After a torn ACL in 2018, he returned in 2019 and played all 16 games and played at a pretty high level. No, McLeod has never been a Pro Bowler and it seems unlikely that he’ll become one in his ninth NFL season. But he means a lot to the Eagles. 

Jim Schwartz has called McLeod the calming presence in the Eagles’ secondary and that’s important. He’s the free safety and often the last line of defense for Schwartz’s unit. It’s his job to calm everyone and to give them peace of mind, knowing that he’ll be assignment-sound. 

But McLeod has some fire in him too. While he’s typically a lead-by-example type, we saw his fiery side in 2018. Even though he missed most of that season with the injury, he was the guy getting the defensive backs pumped up in pre-game huddles. While he’s normally the quieter type on the field, he can flip a switch too. Without Jenkins, the Eagles are going to rely on McLeod to be more of a leader on and off the field. 

And without Jenkins, the communication between McLeod and Jalen Mills (who was No. 14 on our list) will be really important. Sure, they’ve played together since 2016, but that was with Mills as a corner. Now that he’s a safety, it’ll be up to McLeod to make sure that transition is smooth. 

Last season, McLeod started all 16 games and had 76 tackles, 2 INTs, 6 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles. Since joining the Eagles in 2016, McLeod leads the team in interceptions with eight. The next closest players are Ronald Darby and Malcolm Jenkins with six apiece. 

The Eagles signed McLeod as a free agent back in 2016 and it has ended up being a great signing for the Birds. Once undrafted by the Rams, McLeod has become a key member of the Eagles and he’ll be even more important in 2020.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Inside Rodney McLeod's 'mind-blowing' talk with Dallas Goedert amid George Floyd protests

Inside Rodney McLeod's 'mind-blowing' talk with Dallas Goedert amid George Floyd protests

A number of Eagles players, current and former, have spoken up in the weeks since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis and protests against institutional racism and police brutality swept across the nation, including here in Philadelphia.

One player who took to the streets alongside Philadelphia residents was safety Rodney McLeod, who protested in Center City, as did former Eagles safty Malcolm Jenkins.

Jenkins became the team's de facto leader on societal issues during his time in Philly, but with Jenkins leaving the Eagles this offseason, McLeod said this week that he's trying to take the lead and be an agent for change.

And that includes in his own (virtual) locker room.

McLeod appeared on NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Wednesday to talk about his role in the protests, and his conversations with teammates amid the ongoing protests:

The ninth-year safety said he's spoken to a number of Eagles, but one conversation in particular stuck out:

I had conversations with guys like Carson, Zach Ertz, [Jason] Kelce, Jake Elliott, and Dallas Goedert, and two guys who we all know have spoken out in a very powerful way and made statements were Zach Ertz and Carson. And I challenged them to not have their voices end there, to now take action. One thing I observed from them was their willingness to listen, and also being eager to learn more, to get out there in the front lines, to be a participant, and to stand alongside their brothers like myself. 

I had a very candid conversation with Dallas Goedert where he told me his first encounter with an African-American man was in college. It was mind-blowing for me to hear him say that, to think that neighborhoods or people's upbringings exist, because I come from a different background, where I've seen all different types of races, and I've encountered them all, and shared experiences with them. So you have to think that there are plenty of Dallas Goederts out there who, unfortunately, don't get the opportunity to experience the African-American man, and when they do, what is their perspective? How has that race been portrayed, either through the news or what they see on television, or what they're talking about in their homes?

That's quite a detail from Goedert. The 25-year-old tight end grew up in Britton, South Dakota, a small town with a population just over 1,200 and an overwhelmingly white demographic breakdown, so it makes sense.

McLeod, on the other hand, grew up around Clinton, Maryland, a town of over 30,000 with a majority African-American population.

It's really cool to see Eagles players of different backgrounds and upbringings coming together and having important conversations as a team during such a unique moment.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Rodney McLeod expects Eagles teammates to join him in pregame demonstrations

Rodney McLeod expects Eagles teammates to join him in pregame demonstrations

Rodney McLeod said he thinks he will resume his demonstrations against racial injustice during the national anthem for the 2020 NFL season and he expects his Eagles teammates to join him. 

In an interview with ESPN’s Tim McManus, the Eagles’ safety said he isn’t exactly sure what form of demonstration he’ll use. 

“I think I will in some capacity,” McLeod said. 

McLeod was then asked if the majority of his teammates will join him:  

I would believe so. I think it’s important for us to continue this and not let this pass us by. So let’s take the right steps and that means committing ourselves throughout the 2020 season and further until we get change.

While Malcolm Jenkins became one of the national faces of the movement, McLeod also protested with him in 2017 by also raising his fist in the air. Those protests almost stopped entirely league-wide in 2018 after the NFL and the Players Coalition brokered a deal that included nearly $90 million for programs to battle social inequality. 

But just last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the NFL was wrong for not listening to its players back then. Goodell didn’t specifically mention Colin Kaepernick but did say the league will “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” 

That message from Goodell came the day after many black NFL superstars posted a video demanding the NFL condemn racism and admit fault for not listening to its players before. 

The NFL on Thursday pledged another $250 million over 10 years to combat systemic racism and said it will collaborate with players for criminal justice reform, police reforms and economic and educational advancement. 

In recent weeks, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, McLeod has been vocal. As protests against police brutality were held across the country, he spoke up. 

Several of McLeod’s white teammates have also shown their support in recent weeks. Most notably, Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz posted public messages. It’s unclear if either of them will join demonstrations this season, but that support means something to McLeod. 

“I respect those guys for taking the time to want to learn but also to listen and then on top of that now take action,” he said to ESPN. “Regardless of the backlash they might get from people in the world. It’s bigger than that. They understand and they were sympathetic to the moment.”

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles